Art is everywhere! I saw this sculpture in an Estate Agent’s window in Copenhagen, and recognised it straight away as one of the ‘character heads’ by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-1783). I went into the shop and asked to take photos – the young man looked rather bemused as he had no idea they were art and, as I don’t speak any Danish, I couldn’t tell him about them. But I am thankful that he let me take some pictures.
Whether the idea for these figures came from visions or hallucinations or disturbances in Messerschmidt’s mind, I think they are remarkable because they suspend a very human expression in a moment of time – and capture it in sculptural form. The reality of those expressions is what is arresting, and I could just imagine children mimicking the expressions if they saw them through the window. In an age in which it is desirable to erase the wrinkles and lines etched on our faces through time and experience, these character heads are a reminder of our wonderful humanity and the reality of our emotions being manifest in our facial expressions. A person’s kindness, warmth and energy are what is attractive, more than peach-perfect skin. I love it that art can be a nudge to pause and think about being better humans.